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The "Edge of the City" means Menidi, a poor suburb on the edge of pulsating Athens (the city). Menidi harbours many Cosssack Greeks. They are also called "pontios", ethnic Greeks from the Black Sea dispersed through the ex-Southern Soviet Union in the Stalin era. The "pontios" have returned to Greece en masse after the demise of the USSR. The parents speak mostly Greek, but the teenage children speak a hybrid Russian-Greek language which reflects their lack of identity and marginalization. The teenagers' marginalization leads them to the core of the film's theme: the lives of petty crime and prostitution which these second or third class Greeks lead. Their camaraderie, the way they mock each others' dealing in homosexuality, their sexual and criminal exploitation by rich Greeks, their own exploitation of prostitutes, sexual and moral ambiguity all lead to the film's defining.Written by
"Buff and barely eighteen, Sasha lives with his mother and father in a Kazakhstan immigrant settlement on the outskirts of Athens. At night, he and his teenaged friends rollerblade through the city, where they hang out in brothels and work as male prostitutes. Every day they endure an obstacle course of johns, drug dealers, pimps and gangsters, as they try desperately to survive in a country that is not their own," according to the DVD sleeve summary. The cover notes this film, re-titled "From the Edge of the City" for English language viewers, was the "Official 'Academy Awards' entry from Greece" in the foreign film category. Understandably unrevealed is the fact that it was not, finally, nominated. It did well on the film festival circuit, however.
The film is artfully done, by writer/director Constantine Giannaris, with shaky camera shots, documentary-style interruptions, and bisexual subject matter. Star protagonist Stathis Papadopoulos (as Rosso "Sasha" Pond) handles the acting assignment very well, but he isn't given a character with much focus. After five years of tricking and drugs, one tends to spend a few minutes looking a little ragged, but Mr. Papadopoulos is always fresh-faced and perfectly toned. His chiseled chest is prominently displayed, but he reveals little explicit. The parents look ragged, though. Possibly, the key is that young "Sasha" never totally lived the street life, but just dabbled there to pal around for a quick buzz, sex, and cash. He keeps his nose clean, too.
****** Apo tin akri tis polis (11/20/98) Constantine Giannaris ~ Stathis Papadopoulos, Theodora Tzimou, Dimitris Papoulidis, Panayiotis Hartomatzidis
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